OAKLAND — The Town Council discussed what to do regarding the recent vote on Nov. 8 to legalize recreational marijuana in the state of Maine at its meeting Tuesday evening.

Locally, the majority of residents in Oakland voted no on Question 1, 1,914-1,620. The referendum makes it legal for people 21 or older to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for recreational purposes. It also allows for marijuana retail stores and social clubs.

The vote is now being recounted after legalization won by a margin of less than 1 percent, but towns and cities across the state had already started working to enact moratoriums on marijuana social clubs and retail stores before the election. Moratoriums temporarily ban the establishment of certain businesses to give towns time to create regulations.

Oakland, however, doesn’t really have that option.

Town Manager Gary Bowman explained at the meeting that, because the town’s comprehensive plan isn’t updated and the town doesn’t have zoning, it can’t enforce a moratorium. The council could, if they wanted, try to update the comprehensive plan from 1996, but Bowman didn’t know how much time that would take.

According to its legal advisors, Bowman said, the town’s other options are to impose licensing restrictions or to declare Oakland a “dry town,” forbidding the sale of marijuana and the establishment of social clubs.


The town has to make a decision on what to do with the issue despite the recount because people may start making business decisions, and if Oakland signs an ordinance restricting that potential business after the fact, the town could potentially be sued.

Councilor Don Borman said declaring Oakland a dry town for recreational marijuana might be the best route, as the town could choose to change that later, as it did with alcohol.

Borman also suggested the town see if the Maine Municipal Association, an organization that offers professional services to local governments, has a survey of what other communities are doing on the issue.

Council Chairman Mike Perkins said that in Colorado, towns that allowed the sale of marijuana have seen crime rates go up as people look for money to buy marijuana. If Oakland was a dry town, people could still smoke what they wanted, he said, but people wouldn’t be coming to town to buy marijuana.

Bowman said he would work on drafting a potential ordinance to make Oakland a dry town for recreational marijuana.

In other business, Bowman reported that the town has 25 foreclosures so far this year.


The council also took a vote to permanently make Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, a holiday for town employees.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239


Twitter: @madelinestamour

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